...is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances. -C.S. Lewis
Obviously Kate and I have taken a rather lengthy hiatus from Two Broke Wives. But we wanted you all to know it was not necessarily “by choice.” While I will not touch on what’s been going on in Kate’s life because that is her story to tell, I will share my story and what it means for the future of TBW.
If you don’t remember, Kevin and I moved down to Wilmington, NC and shortly after relocating I started a career at Nest Realty after getting my real estate license. Soon after starting there, Kevin and I found out we were expecting! Unfortunately, almost from the beginning we had a lot of issues with the pregnancy. The two most concerning were some unusual findings in anatomy ultrasounds and me getting pre-eclampsia (I was so swollen I thought my fingers and toes might pop. Seriously...it was not my most attractive moment nor the ‘pregnancy glow’ I was looking forward to!) Because of concerns of prematurity combined with potential congenital birth defects, we were sent back to a children’s hospital in Virginia because of the range of specialists that would be available. So not only were we pre-occupied by the anxiety of what the future would hold for our sweet boy, but we were also living quite the nomadic lifestyle!
On November 1, 2015 at just 33 weeks our sweet baby, Finn Michael, was born via C-section because of how severely my pre-eclampsia was progressing. I can still remember that day so clearly. I couldn't believe that my son was going to be born at only 33 weeks...it was too soon, he wasn't ready, I wasn't ready. But I also remember having a strange calm inside my heart. I believe God was telling me to trust Him, Finn was strong and it was time.
At 4:07 PM, Finn Michael Branch was born weighing 4 lbs 9 oz and 19 inches long. He was perfect. Initially, everything was going as well as we could have hoped. But things quickly took a turn for the worse. He was soon showing signs of Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) and was put on CPAP to help him breath. When his oxygen sats were continuing to get worse, they decided to intubate. That's when we knew something was very wrong.
When they tried to put the endotracheal tube in, it kept slipping back into his esophagus. Finally, after several unsuccessful attempts, they placed two endotracheal tubes; one acting as a stint sitting in Finn's esophagus and the other sitting in his airway providing ventilation. This was the first time any of the medical team (neonatologists, ENT, nurses, RTs, etc) had ever seen a baby have two breathing tubes placed. It's usually never good to be a "first" in the medical world...one of the many lessons we've learned along the way.
Soon after getting him intubated, Finn was transferred over to the NICU at CHKD. He was put on a jet ventilator - a high-frequency ventilator that provides greater respiratory rates than a normal ventilator and is used on infants that are failing on conventional ventilation.
When he was 3 days old he had his first of many bronchs. He was diagnosed with a type 3 larygotracheal cleft. A tracheal cleft is a rare congenital defect in which the trachea (airway) is open to the esophagus. There are 4 types distinguished by the length of the cleft ranging from type 1s which are considered to be normal variants to type 4s which are open all the way down and considered not compatible to life. It was not a good diagnosis, but it wasn't the worst either.
We ended up transferring to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) when Finn was a little over a month old. Not only does CHOP have one of the best NICUs in the nation, but they also have one of the best airway centers. The decision to transfer Finn up to CHOP, I believe, was the single best decision we made for him and for his chances at having a "normal" life. I love our CHOP family. And they truly are family. They treated us with kindness and compassion even in the darkest days of his journey. The nurses cared for Finn as one of their own. When you are going through trials that you never dreamed you would have to go through in your worst nightmares, it’s nice to have a team you trust and know have your best interests in your corner. CHOP gave us hope and gave Finn life.
During our 6 month stay at CHOP, Finn had a g-tube placed, nissen fundoplication, 2 PICC lines placed, 6 bronchs, 2 repair surgeries (first unsuccessful, second successful), was paralyzed for 2 weeks due to severe tongue edema post-op, and had a tracheostomy. We have seen Finn go through things that no parent should ever have to see their baby go through... let's just say that vaccination shots don't phase us!
But the most miraculous, amazing thing was the grace and joy Finn handled all of the adversities he was faced with. He taught me that patience and a kind heart can get you through the most difficult of times. And I feel like that's an unusual statement to make about a now 11 month old, but for anyone who has met Finn, they would tell you it's not unusual at all. It's just one of the many reasons I think God blessed Kevin and I with the responsibility of being Finn's parents, to show us it is not the size or age or intelligence or physical strength of a person, but the heart and innocence and faith that the person possesses that can make a difference, that can make people believe in goodness and miracles. That even a baby can inspire. God truly works in mysterious ways.
As I mentioned, during the second repair surgery, Finn had a trach placed that was only supposed to be there immediately post-op to give his airway repair the best chance at healing without any interference that could potentially compromise the site. Unfortunately he failed decannulation and a bronch revealed that he has severe tracheomalacia (floppy airway tissue instead of rigid tissue making it impossible for him to move air down to his lungs.) So the trach was staying. Another difficult setback especially since prior to the repair he was breathing room air unassisted. Eventually he will outgrow the malacia, but what that time frame is is unknown; we were told anywhere from a few months to 2 years.
Finn is now home (he came home June 16th after 228 days in the NICU) and is still inspiring us every day with his tenacity and sweet smiles. There are still a lot of unknowns and a long road ahead of us, but I am trusting that God will continue to see us through, continue to bring Finn strength and heal his body, continue to help Kevin and I be the best advocates for Finn that we can be.
So as we move forward and as things become more stable, I plan on starting to get back into the world of projects! This will be a little challenging because we are living at my parents to have extra eyes on Finn, he’s sweet, but he’s also a little mischievous!
Thank you for your patience as you’ve been completely in the dark as to why we completely dropped off into the abyss of no new posts. Like I said, the goal is to get back to regular posting. I am going to be completely honest in saying that is not going to happen immediately, but we will start bringing you new content AND we are looking to do a makeover to the website.
With love, Christie